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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Begins Environmental Review of Proposed Ohio Wind Energy Facility and Habitat Conservation Plan
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is gathering information for a review under the National Environmental Policy Act of a proposed wind power project in Ohio, and of a proposed Habitat Conservation Plan developed by EverPower Wind Holdings, Inc., to conserve the endangered Indiana bat.
EverPower is planning to develop a wind energy facility spread over about 80,370 acres in Champaign County, Ohio. Development would include installation up to 100 wind turbines and associated collection lines, access roads, utility lines, substations, operation and maintenance facility buildings. Within the 80,370-acre project area, about 500 acres would be disturbed by construction. Following restoration, the permanent operating footprint will be approximately 100 acres.
The project is located in a rural setting, with woodlots scattered throughout the project area. Construction of the wind energy facility is expected to affect the endangered Indiana bat, prompting the Service’s review under NEPA. As part of the review process, the Service is gathering information from the public, including biological information about the Indiana bat; wind power and bat interactions; range, population size, trends and distribution of the species; and other relevant information.
The Service is also seeking comment on the level of NEPA review associated with the project, and whether an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact statement is more appropriate. The public will have additional opportunities for input during development of an EA or EIS.
An HCP developed by EverPower and approved by the Service would include measures for long-term conservation of Indiana bats and will be used by EverPower to apply for a Service permit to exempt an otherwise lawful activity (construction and operation of a wind energy facility) from the prohibition of take under the Endangered Species Act. Take, under the Act, means harming, harassing, or killing endangered or threatened species.
The Indiana bat ranges through most of the eastern United States, hibernating in groups in caves and mines during the winter. Females form maternity colonies under the bark of large trees during the summer, where they raise their young. Indiana bats, like most bats in the eastern United States, are significant consumers of insects, including agricultural pests.
Indiana bats, listed as endangered in 1967, were among the first animals protected under the precursor to the current Endangered Species Act. Threats to the species include disturbance during hibernation, when bats may cluster in groups of up to 500 per square foot. Loss or modification of summer habitat used by maternity colonies is also a threat.
The public may submit comments for the Service’s review of the EverPower wind project’s impact on Indiana bats by one of the following methods:
Comments must be received by March 1, 2010.
For more information on endangered species, wind power, and Habitat Conservation Plans, visit the Service’s Midwest Region website at www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered For information regarding this specific project, visit the website at <http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/permits/hcp/buckeyewind/index.html>
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
Last updated: October 24, 2012